Craving Guidance? Here's How to Find the Right Mentor For You.
Identifying a good mentor can be the holy grail of your career. There's something incredibly powerful about having someone in your corner who is a living, breathing manifestation of the phrase, "been there, done that" ... a guide who generously shares their experiences as you navigate your own, cheers you on, and opens up opportunities for you as you grow.
Who doesn't want or need that in their life?! If you're sitting here thinking to yourself, sign me all the way up, we're right there with you.
But here's the thing. While all of this sounds good on paper, knowing how to find a mentor is easier said than done. So if you're seeking mentorship in your life, follow these steps to identify what — and who — you are looking for.
Defining Your Goals
Before you set out on your search, be introspective about your professional intentions. It's time to do a little homework: dig deep and define your goals. Why? It will make it easier to align with the right mentor and bring them up to speed about your vision for your future self. As you take this opportunity to get your foundational thoughts together, know that you'll have more clarity, specificity, and accountability when a mentor enters your life. So put on your thinking cap and start by asking yourself these questions:
- What am I hoping to accomplish?
- How feasible is this goal?
- How will I know if I've achieved it?
- What will success look like?
- What time and resources can I dedicate?
- What action steps will I take?
- What is my timeline?
- What sacrifices will this goal require?
Pinpointing The Right Fit For You
Now that you've mapped out your goals, it's time to map out your people. Think about who you look up to, and what you aspire to be. Now compare that to yourself: What's currently missing and how can a mentor help fill the gaps? By thinking about the traits and experiences you're looking to harness, you can start to create a fuller picture of what the ideal mentor looks like:
- Where are they in their career?
- What professional knowledge can they impart?
- What unique perspectives can they provide?
- What are their values?
- What is their communication style?
Reaching Out to Potential Mentors
Once you know what you're looking for, identify people that fit the bill by looking in your existing professional circles, or asking for referrals from within your personal network.
Then, it's time to set up a preliminary meeting and test out the waters. Let them know that you admire their work or career path and are interested in learning more over coffee. If they seem invested during the meeting, formalize your request for mentorship.
When you frame your ask, it helps to start the exploration informally. Remember, you want to treat this as a business friendship of sorts. Specificity is everything, so clearly express what you're looking for. This connection is a deep investment on both ends.
- What does being a mentor mean to you?
- How will you meet, and how often?
- How will they challenge you?
There isn't a one size fits all approach to initiating a mentor/mentee relationship. Enjoy the process and make the most of the journey!